Shop Stories: From Scary to Sweet

Shop Stories: From Scary to Sweet

Woodworkers Who Were Spooked

It seems that many of our eZine readers just can’t get enough of sending in your responses to our contests. These winning stories sent in response to our scary shop story contest are certainly spooky.

First place went to what this reader called his “Frankensaw.” He explains below. – Editor

“Couldn’t stand to part with my 30-something Craftsman when I got the Grizzly 1023SL, so “married” the two as a single unit. You wouldn’t believe the number of times having two setups has come in handy. A real plus is, if the two are carefully aligned, the fence of one works fine for the other saw. I call it the ‘Grizzman.’”

Second place is the sort of scare that all woodworkers wish to avoid – and a good reminder to follow shop safety rules. – Editor

“I was working one Sunday afternoon on a small project. Ignoring all the safety rules, I was using a miter saw to de-burr a small turning, much like someone would use an angle grinder. I had a fairly strong grip on the piece and was holding it up to the running saw to cut off the little stub left after parting.

“So the inevitable happened: the teeth of the blade dug into the wood and pulled the piece out of my hand. And…took a chunk out of my thumb. The extent of the damage wasn’t immediately obvious, as I had instantly grabbed the thumb with my right hand as one does after injury. Well, as anyone who works in a woodshop will tell you, there’s a different feeling between a shallow cut and a deep one. I realized this was a deep one. My thoughts were, ‘This will take a while to heal…’ I removed my right hand to survey the extent of the damage. A jet of blood squirted about four feet across the room. ‘Well, that’s not good,’ I thought. It took maybe 15 to 20 seconds for the realization to sink in that I was missing about ¾ inch of my left thumb.

“You can now call me ‘stumpy,’ and I won’t be offended. Be careful, guys!” – Jim Millar

Another scary shop safety story rounds out third place. – Editor

“I was taking a short wood workshop course (mostly it was to get access to the full range of shop machinery), working on a hall table, and had some short pieces that needed to be jointed. As the instructor was busy and I had already done some jointer work on longer pieces, I started right in. I quickly found that it’s not a good idea to do short pieces. The kickback threw the workpiece to the far side of the shop – about 20 feet away – and I was missing a chunk of flesh from the back of my thumb. (The scar is still there as a reminder.) After applying a dressing and giving me a short lesson about my stupidity, I finished the work. The hardest part was cleaning the blood off the workpiece after I found it.” – Michael Hnetka

A few more reminders of why those shop safety rules are in place for a reason. – Editor

“I was changing the blade on the table saw. Removed the throat piece and was ready to insert wrench and block of wood to hold blade when the saw started all by itself. The electrician said dust had built up on switch contacts that caused it to start by itself. I had always instructed my students to throw the breaker, and now I follow my own advice and am grateful I can still count to 10 using my fingers.” – Bob Newton

“I was using my radial arm saw to rip (always a dangerous prospect). I was working inside a garage, and the garage door was down. The piece I was ripping kicked back. It went through the material of my shirt, through the garage door (the wood part, not  the glass!), down the driveway, across the street, and landed in a neighbor’s yard. Had my arm been down a little bit further toward the bench, it would have impaled me. I kept that piece of wood nailed over my RAS so I would never forget the scare I had the day I chose to rip a piece of hardwood on a radial arm saw.” – Rick Cimino

“My shop scary story comes from many years ago, when I was 16. (I’m 59 now.) I was in my dad’s shop, rip sawing a 1” pine board. About halfway through the cut, the saw jumped out of the kerf, putting a 1/2” deep cut in my right thumb, slicing through both thumbnail and the meat below. After calming down a bit, I got up the nerve to call my dad at work. ‘Why get up the nerve,’ you ask? My dad had specifically told me not to use his tools!!” – Brad Drury

And our last story to share this time out has his own ghost tale from the shop – or is it? – Editor

“My son and I were in the shop discussing building a portable toolbox using my grandfather’s tools that I inherited. These tools were his Navy Seabee tools still neatly arranged in the government-issued trunk. The tool tote would resemble the tote my grandfather actually used. A week went by, and I had not been in the shop. I was suffering withdrawals so I decided to go out and perhaps sketch up the needed cut list.

“I walked in the shop, turned on the lights, and there in front of me were two beautiful totes, exact replicas of my grandfather’s. I looked over to the workbench, and there were grandfather’s tools laid out of the trunk. I could not imagine what what could have happened. Did Grandfather somehow visit my shop? He has been deceased for 30 years. There is just my wife and I living at home now and my wife, while she loves to use the scroll saw, would not even consider taking on projects like these. My son, while quite capable, normally only came by on Sundays for lunch.

“Well, it was Sunday, and my son and daughter were due for our regular lunch, so I could hardly bear the wait to see if perhaps he had come by without my knowledge. As soon as he arrived, I whisked him out to the shop to show what I had discovered. He was flabbergasted; he assured me that he knew nothing about the totes and furthermore did not believe I had not built them as a surprise.

“I told him about my thoughts on Grandfather woodworking from beyond the grave. He laughed, then just looked eerily at the totes. I took the totes inside the house to show the rest of the family, and was greeted with a happy birthday. I had completely forgot it was my birthday. That is when my daughter looked at what I had in my hand and said, ‘You ruined my surprise. I heard you and Larry talking about building the totes, so I built them for you as a birthday present.’ I still like to think maybe Grandfather was there in the shop with her guiding her on.” – Larry L. Cox, Sr.

Still Talkin’ T-shirts

We also received a few late entries to our T-shirt slogan contest – too late for the contest, unfortunately, but still fun to read these ideas of what woodworkers should have emblazoned upon their chests. – Editor

“My entry would have been: ‘Woodworker’s Journal – Wooden Miss It for the World.” – Mike Parker

“I missed sending this slogan: ‘Do Your Best and Caulk the Rest.’” – Bob Antonucci

And there was one wag who suggested a slight change in the wording of one of the actual winning slogans.

“I think Kent Sutherland’s slogan (“I came, I sawed, I conquered!”) was great…and here is the “but,” you misspelled one word: ‘I came, I sawed, I LACQUERED!’” – Gary Powers

Getting Panels Flat, Not Bowed

Moving on, a few readers shared additional thoughts for the questioner in our Q&A section last time out who was having trouble getting flat boards out of his thickness planer. – Editor

“Your reader should mark the desired face of each board and, when jointing, alternate which face is to the fence so as to cancel any deviation from square.” – Randy Jones

“Whenever I join boards, I plane the boards to thickness first. Then I arrange the boards to give the final panel the best grain appearance. Then, I joint the edges of each panel. When jointing each two boards to be glued together, I joint the two panels using the top surface of one and the bottom surface of the other against the fence. In this way, the two edges have complementary angles and the two surfaces will lie flat, although the joint angle may not be 90 degrees to the surface. I do this because I’m never confident that I can get the jointer fence to be set at a perfect 90 degree angle.” – George Mills

Keeping CA Glue Liquid

And it sounds like eZine readers have many different methods for keeping CA glue from hardening, another question posed in last issue’s Q&A. – Editor

“Keep CA glue in the freezer to prevent it from hardening. Will not freeze.” – Wes Perreira

“The best way to stop glue from ‘drying up’ is to store it upside down, which allows no air into the bottle.” – Bob Keeley

“If I know that I am not going to be using it for a while, I use my trusty vacuum packer that I use for food. It works great, and I have opened it up over a year later, and it was just as good as new.” – John Sweigart

“I asked my wife for one of her empty nail polish vials, rinsed it a few times with acetone and left the cap off a few days to air. I then filled it with CA and voila, no more dry-up, and the bonus is the little brush already in the cap!” – Carl Vella

Perhaps the most detailed method for preserving cyanoacrylate glue came from this reader, a woodworking chemist who really likes to watch his woodworking supplies pennies. – Editor

“While I agree with your point of not buying a large bottle if you don’t use much each year, most of us don’t like buying a small bottle with its ridiculously higher price per ounce.

“I called the tech support number on the Titebond® bottle, and they’ll give you instructions on how much water you can add to reconstitute the stuff. They are pretty conservative, and I’ve found I can add even more water than they recommend if my glue has become quite thick. I use demineralized water, which I gather for free from my dehumidifier. I have done this trick to both Titebond and Elmer’s® White and Carpenter’s Glue with fairly good success. I’m a chemist, so I knew I needed to patiently stir, stir, stir and use microwave heat to aid in redissolving the glue. If there is a hard skin on the top, I usually discard that and thin out the remaining liquid. I use a postal scale to measure the glue and the water I add.

“Air, heat, evaporation and moisture are the various enemies of most glues. Some are cured by moisture, some are cured by drying out. I bought a bottle of original Gorilla Glue in December 2001. I wrote the date I opened it for first use on the label, February 2002. The bottle says shelf life is three years unopened, and one year after opening. Last week, I used some of this 2002 Gorilla Glue to repair a badly split oak wheelbarrow handle which sits outdoors all summer long. The glue worked as well as when brand-new. How did I manage to outlive the manufacturer’s recommendation by a  margin of more than seven years versus one?

“1) I squeezed all the air out before tightly screwing on the cap. 2) I stored the bottle upside down. 3) I put it in the back of the fridge.” – Craig Erickson

Table Saw Cut-Off Table

One of the free plans which was available through eZine Issue 234 was a Table Saw Cut-Off Table, and this reader had a question about its construction. (Just a reminder: be sure to download the free plans for each eZine issue before you get the next one in your inbox – they’re not available once an issue goes into the archives!) – Editor

“Thanks for the plan for the cut off table for the table saw.  A couple of questions, though:
1. As you know, a lot of the entry-level table saws with cast aluminum decks have inverted T shaped guide slots.  Any suggestions for getting a snug fit for these type of slots?
2. What is the best hardwood to use to fabricate these guides?” – Joe Blayone

You don’t need to match that shape to get a good fit, simply fit the runners to the upper wall of the guide slots. I would use hard maple, oak or hickory — but once again, most dense hardwoods would serve well for that task. – Rob Johnstone

Thanks from South Africa

It’s always nice to hear from our readers, and to contribute to connecting woodworkers around the globe. – Editor

“It just past 5 o’clock in the afternoon here in South Africa, and I have just drawn the free plans which you offered me, i.e. Goose Basket and Cabriole Leg Side Table. I will never say no to something like this, as we are not so fortunate in our country to have so many woodworking magazines as yourselves. I just enjoy and love these overseas woodworking magazines, so thanks again for the plans and being able to join you on your website.” – Louis Mulder

Big Thanks for Big Pix

We also heard praise this time out for the “roll your mouse over this photo to make it bigger” feature which you’ll find in most of our articles. The thanks for this goes to WJ content coordinator Matt Becker, whose behind-the-scenes magic is much of what makes the eZine a success.- Editor

“Please forward to your webmaster my praise for the use of ‘expando’ pictures in the article Today’s Woodworker. I view a lot of html pages and, for some strange reason, this is the first time I’ve seen this sort of code used – but more importantly, what a really neat way to view the pictures larger, without having to load a new page and then have to return to the article. Fabulous!” – Bob Shaffer

Shop Memories

Finally for this time out, we conclude with some thoughts from an eZine reader who is making memories in his shop not only for himself, but for the next couple of generations. – Editor

“When my daughter came to visit, her little boy really enjoyed ‘working’ in my shop. He was about four years old when all this was happening. I placed a piece of soft wood in the vise of a low workbench and let him have a small hand saw. It took him a while to saw through the piece. When he finished, he turned to me and said, ‘Poppy look at that sawdust.’ He had to use my tape measure to measure his project also. I kept it clipped to my pocket most of the time. Once I laid it down on my workbench, and when I turned to get it it was gone. I looked over and he had it clipped to his pocket. For those who have grandkids, this is a time to make some great memories.” – Bob Miller

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